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Tips For Sewing Specialty Fabrics

Sometimes when we “get on a roll” with the sewing projects we’re doing, it is so easy to simply sew everything using the same type of thread, and not even think about changing the needle when changing fabrics.  We’ve collected a variety of tips that we all need to think about before changing from one fabric type to another.   Other tips help with purchasing specialty fabrics, cutting the fabrics, storing the fabric or completed garment.  There are many variables when working with those specialty fabrics.  Here are a few things to think about:

** On some fabrics it is almost impossible to tell the right side from the wrong side.  Here are a couple pointers:

A. On tricot or a sweater knit, if you pull on the crosswise “grain”, the fabric will curl to the right side.

B. On double knits, look for the small selvage holes.  They will appear to be “pushed in” on the right side.

** And speaking of fabric “curling”, single knits and tricot have a tendency to curl at the edges and make sewing difficult.  Try spray starch along the edges – the seams will lay flat for stitching.

** After you’ve cut out a garment from your specialty fabric, make a couple of 8″ squares of the fabric that you can use later to test fusible interfacings on, to test thread colors, or to test stitch length if you’re doing any topstitching.  Also use it to make a sample buttonhole if you’ll be needing buttonholes, to check what they will look like before making one on the actual garment.

** In some types of fabric, such as chiffon, you may find the needle will drag the fabric down into the needle hole when you begin to sew.  Make sure you are using a fine needle, have the tensions set properly, and if the problem still exists, place a piece of gummed tape over the needle hole in the throat plate of the machine.  The tape will prevent the fabric from being “pulled” down, and can be removed easily later.

** The advantages of using silk thread for sewing “drycleanable” fabrics include its strength, elasticity, smooth finish and freedom from tangling.  The strength and elasticity makes for longer wear and less popping of seams at points of strain.

** When cutting any type of knit fabric, never let it hang down off the table, as that may stretch it and change the size.

** Some silks are washable – to be sure, take a small square or corner of the fabric and cover it with a damp cotton cloth.  Press the cotton cloth with a hot iron for a few seconds.  If any color shows on the cotton, the garment should be taken to the dry cleaners.  If no color shows, the best way to wash silk is in warm water, by hand, using a mild soap.

** Use extra fine pins for pinning silks – “silk” pins are too coarse for silk.

** When storing sheer or knitted silk, store it flat.  If you must hang a silk garment, pad it well with tissue paper and cover it with muslin or other cloth.

** Speaking of silk – if you let your silk garments air dry, they may turn yellow.

** Be very careful if using steam on silk – you may end up with water spots on the garment.

The above tips are an excerpt from the book 500 Kwik and Easy Sewing Tips.  This book contains so many tips, you’ll find yourself  “bookmarking” every page.  And at the super $9.95 price, this may be the most used book in your sewing library!

 

 

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Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author

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